The HD20’s default color settings and somewhat over-expanded colorimetry provide a too-rich color intensity, although this film’s color palette ranges from the subdued to the intense, depending on the scene. Turning the color control down tames things somewhat without washing out the picture.
The set’s default Bright picture mode puts out a surprisingly bright picture, but the Cinema, Reference and User modes tame some of that extra brightness, and improve the deep blacks. There’s more light spill on very deep blacks than I care for, but that’s about the only major drawback of the HD20.
Fairly good, aided by the adjustable gamma parameters. Most of the race scenes are shot at night, and the various drivers inside their dark vehicle interiors are fairly easy to see, but there is some black crush which obscures dark gray detail.
Broadcast HDTV Evaluation: NASCAR Racing (ESPN)
A brief segment has a commentator showing one race car’s elaborate brake cooling system, and the HD close-up shots are remarkably clear and crisp.
With the HD20’s color control dialed down, the over-emphasis at the factory default position largely goes away. The various cars’ colorful paint jobs and logo embellishments have just the right amount of color vividness. The projector’s Warm color mode puts the set’s color temperature remarkably close to the D65 color temperature ideal.
With so many of the cars sporting shiny black paint jobs on which their various sponsorship logos are applied, the HD20 does a fine job of delivering good deep blacks.
Various close-ups of the drivers in their cars during pit stops are bit too shadowy, but then this nighttime race doesn’t have optimum lighting along pit row.
Frankly, I’m amazed at the overall terrific performance of the Optoma HD20. Given the breakthrough low price, I was expecting at least some significant compromises, but found virtually none, save for a little higher light spill on deep blacks compared to other single-chip 1080p DLP projectors I’ve had my hands on lately. The set puts out enough light (in the Bright mode) to handle even very large screen sizes, and the other picture modes including Cinema and Reference feature default settings very close to the technical ideal. The projector runs fairly quietly, and the extensive video adjustability means that the HD20 can be mated to just about any screen size and material type. The inclusion of anamorphic Mode 1 vertical stretch scaling puts to shame some other projector brands, who only offer the function on their higher-priced models as a step-up inducement (yet, the feature itself costs virtually nothing).
With the very difficult 1080i “Jaggies” test pattern on the Spears & Munsil Blu-ray test disc, the HD20 did an incredibly good job of deinterlacing it to 1080p, as good as I’ve ever seen on any display or outboard video processor. I have only a few gripes with the HD20, such as the overly sensitive focus and zoom adjustments, but these are really minor quibbles when I consider the surprisingly good performance and the tremendous value. At the risk of repeating myself, the Optoma HD20 shows once again that good engineering need not come with any price premium. It’s a tremendous performer and a superlative value, which will surely increase the number of big screen front projection aficionados.
Optoma HD20 DLP Projector
Practical Screen Size Upper Limit (10 Foot-Lamberts, 1.0 gain): 180” diagonal 16:9
Pixel resolution: 1920 x 1080
1:1 Mode: Yes
Has Mode 1 Scaling (vertical stretch for anamorphic lens compatibility)?: Yes
Video inputs: 2 HDMI, 1 component, 1 composite, 1 RGB PC (doubles as a 4th component input with suitable adapter cable)
Other connections: 1 12V trigger output
Dimensions (W x H x D): 12.8” x 3.8” x 9.2”
Weight: 6.4 lbs.
Warranty: 1 year parts & labor; 90 days on lamp